Posted by Pete Albano - July 2, 2013 | Updated: August 16, 2015
Of all the Marvel events I've read, Secret Invasion is the one that is the most dependent on its tie-in stories. Brian Michael Bendis' epic is so huge, parts of it just doesn't fit in the eight issues comprising the main story arc.
It all begins with this.
It was in the pages of the New Avengers that Iron Man and his team confronted the seemingly endless ninja assassins of the Hand led by Elektra. Or at least, we all thought it was Elektra until she was revealed as a Skrull. And that's pretty much the crux of Secret Invasion, the shape-shifting Skrulls have infiltrated Earth's heroes and their allies. Who's a Skrull and who isn't is going to be a big problem moving forward.
Leinil Francis Yu does the art for this event and early on we get this beautiful landscape of a Skrull world.
I've always been a big fan of S.W.O.R.D.'s 'The Peak' headquarters. Just look at it.
Here, Dum Dum Dugan, legendary Howling Commando and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent visits the Peak.
See the signature hat ? Dum Dum had that on when he was fighting in World War II and its now part of his S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform. You know what? This is so realistic, I actually know someone who goes around with the same hat inside or out no matter the weather and no matter the outfit.
So we have two groups of Avengers here.
We have Iron Man's registered Mighty Avengers
Then we have Luke Cage's Secret Avengers, underground and illegal and wanted by the government.
Both teams are on their way to the Savage Land; located in the middle of the Antarctic. An unidentified ship has crash landed in this location. So aside from the ship, what else is in the Savage Land? This panel should explain things.
Luke Cages' team are the first to find the ship - later on revealed as a Skrull ship.
It is a mark of the deep rifts caused by the superhero Civil War that the seemingly urgent matter of this ship is shunted aside in favor of the animosities between registered and unregistered heroes.
Tony threatens Luke with his repulsor rays and Luke has this to say about it.
I am in such awe of Iron Man's power that it never occurred to me that Luke Cage would be proof against it - or is he?
And here I just said how beautiful the Peak was.
Now its gone, sabotaged by the Skrulls. I'm going to miss that great shape in Earth orbit.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier too is sabotaged. Look at this breathtaking panel.
Back in the Baxter Building, there's an interesting shot of a Fantastic Four tour being conducted.
A Sue Storm Skrull infiltrator manages to compromise the controls holding the Negative Zone in check. Here's Johnny reacting to the emergency.
I haven't come across any really good panels showing Johnny transitioning from his human form to his flame 'Torch' form so the panel above really caught my attention.
Equally good is Yu's rendition of the Negative Zone causing the Baxter Building to implode.
Back in the Savage Land, the Skrull ship opens to an astounding sight.
Old versions of heroes who may or may not be Skrulls. Real or not its a nostalgic sight. Look at the Bronze Age Luke Cage sporting the yellow and blue costume and the much maligned 'tiara'. The Beast seams a fairly new (circa Astonishing X-Men) version. Iron Man in the Mark II. The old, mature vision that I prefer to the current Young Avengers version. Ms. Marvel in the old costume; and Captain America seemingly back from the dead. This panel gives notice to the unprecedented levels of confusion that Secret Invasion will introduce.
Here is how the two Avengers teams react to all this.
I think Yu wasted this panel. I keep comparing this one to how Cassaday did the X-Men reacting to the return of Colossus in Astonishing X-Men and this panel just doesn't measure up.
Henry Pym is a Skrull and he shoots Reed Richards, resulting in a pair of panels that are fascinating in that really gross out way.
The confusion of the Secret and Mighty Avenger teams encountering the "heroes" from the Skrull ship quickly devolves into a fight.
Here's the Vision from the ship tussling with Sentry
I also like this one.
Ronin a.k.a. Clint Barton appropriates the arrows of one who I am assuming is a Skrull-Hawkeye. Ronin has been using swords and nanchucks; its about time Clint came back to the weapon that he's deadliest with. True enough he does a lot of damage with them bow and arrows.
Who are the confirmed Skrulls so far?
Did I say Skrulls? The main Skrull attack force has just landed in New York. Look at these guys!
The most famous one (actually the only one I recognize), is in the lower left hand corner - I mean, isn't that the Super Skrull - famed foe of the Fantastic Four?
This may be the saddest infiltration of all : Jarvis is a Skrull.
Here's another great spread by Yu.
The Young Avengers and the Runaways against the Skrull invaders in New York. I like the rendering of Hulkling and Patriot the best, but any way you look at it, the heroes are outgunned and outmanned. The Young Avenger Vision has all the powers of the classic Vision but compared to that legendary member of the 1976 Avengers this Vision looks like a cream puff; maybe he's missing the swagger or something.
In this panel Hulkling, who is half Skrull, attempts to talk to his supposed 'brothers' to no avail.
Short lesson : race means nothing, your true brothers (and sisters) are those who share your culture.
In the biggest piece of psychological tension in all of Secret Invasion, Skrull-Spider-Woman attempts to convince Tony Stark that he is the 'the biggest sleeper agent in all of Skrull history'.
Back to the fight in NYC, a giant Skrull throws the equally gigantic Stature into the New York skyline. Makes for a great panel this one.
I know I've been critical of the new Vision but this panel still made me wince
As you may have gleaned by now, New York is slowly being lost. But reinforcements have arrived.
Nick Fury and company have arrived, presumably to 'save the day'. Also arriving with them is my favorite pet peeve in all of Secret Invasion, that gun Nick is currying. That incredibly stupid-looking gun.
For the second time, the Skrulls have captured, and are torturing, Reed Richards.
The first time was in the pages of 'The Illuminati', and the method of 'containment' the Skrulls used was very much like this one. Yes, I am angry that Reed is being treated this way, I want to bring Ben in at this point, the Thing will go berzerk if he saw this. Although there is a very small part of my brain that remembers how big a jerk Reed was in Civil War, maybe he deserves a little bit of this for helping create that Thor clone? Nah.
Here's the fight in New York as the heroes get a second wind courtesy of Nick and his new howlers.
And look at that, right in the middle of what could have been a really good art panel is that gun again - like a huge pimple right on the nose of a nice face.
I don't know anything about Phobos, the god of Fear, but this panel is just plain entertaining.
This is one of those things that happen in the main story and I can't understand it so I'm thinking one of the tie-ins will have the answer.
Nick Fury shoots Ms. Marvel,the heroes leave her with the Skrulls but we are not shown that she changes to Skrull form. What is that?
Two more Skrulls
Phoenix-Skrull and Beast-Skrull.
In the midst of all the 'who's the Skrull' confusion, the Black Widow is a bastion of surety.
One of the biggest surprise heroes of Secret Invasion is S.W.O.R.D.'s Agent Brand, first introduced in Astonishing X-Men. Her first move : infiltrate the Skrull mother ship.
As the Hood logically demonstrates here, even the villains must side with the heroes on this one.
I love this panel sequence. No heroes around, big bad Skrull is about to stomp on civilians then this happens to him.
People look up and see the arrival of Thor.
I hated Norman Osborn in Siege. I thought he was pathetic in Civil War. But I really like him in Secret Invasion. His finest moment is when he manages to convince Skrull-Captain Marvel to side with Earth. Here's the page :
Back to Agent Brand. She manages to take out the Skrulls . . .
. . . and rescue Reed Richards.
It is a mark of Reed's level-headed personality that this relatively 'tame' panel is the angriest I've ever seen him.
Here is the Skrull-Captain Marvel turned rogue attacking the Skrull Armada.
Impressive power level - I believe the word 'cosmic' is applicable.
A key turning point happens with the use of the this device.
The equipment Richards is holding is able to 'reveal' any Skrulls in disguise - the deception is at an end at last. Speaking of which . . .
I was a bit baffled by Skrull-Mockingbird's innocent reaction even though she has been exposed as a Skrull - the brainwashing must have been so complete that even she 'forgot' that she was really a Skrull. If they can do this to one of their own, and thay have, then the Skrulls are a truly brutal race.
With the Savage Land 'big reveal' over, the combined Avengers teams make their way to New York to give the forces there a badly needed hand.
I find the panels showing the death - the valiant death - of the Skrull-Captain Marvel particularly poignant.
Breathtaking panel by Yu as the heroes arrive in New York
The Skrulls have brutally invaded New York and most of the populace is terrified of them. But not all, a small group of people have actually turned out to welcome the Skrulls - and yes, this is very realistic isn't it?
Here they are now in front of what looks like Doctor Strange's Greenwhich home. It only looks rundown, of course, part of the sorcerer's enchantment.
A lull in the fighting has the Human and Skrull sides having a final conversation of sorts. This is my favorite part.
"Yeah? Well my god has a hammer!". Oh yeah.
Here's the 'Avengers Assemble' double-page spread - the best pinup in this pinup-rich series.
From here on end its page to page action, huge panels with lots of participants. Here's two of my favorite small panel sequences.
Obviously, Ares has been hurt by the blast, but true to his being the god of war, he actually likes the roughhousing. This is Marvel's Ares, the classic Greek Ares isn't so tough. In the Iliad when Ares got wounded, he beat a hasty retreat.
Wolverine vs. Skrull-Spider Woman is also wonderfully done.
Incidentally, the Skrull-Spider Woman is also Queen of the Skrull Empire.
While the battle is ongoing we have another huge disaster brewing. Remember that Jarvis is a Skrull? Jessica Jones doesn't know it so she does this.
She just left her and Luke Cages' firstborn with a Skrull infiltrator. Cage is going to go ballistic on this one.
Here's another shot of the heroes on the attack.
Young Avengers' Hawkeye on the left just outshines everybody on this panel don't you think? Unfortunately, she'll get severely wounded during the battle.
During the battle, the Wasp loses control, she becomes gigantic. The Skrulls have turned her into a human bomb.
There's nothing to be done but for Thor to warp here out of there.
I love the Tnunder God's last word to the Wasp.
Here is the panel showing the death of the Skrull Queen.
Looking at these panels I initially thought that Wolverine was the one who killed her - I thought he hit her head with his claws and it somehow exploded, some kind of alien reaction. But no, her head exploded because somebody shot her. And that someone is . . .
You can see how this is leading up to Norman Osborn's Dark Reign.
With the ground fighting nearly over its time to wrap up the Skrull invaders in space. Here's a great panel showing that.
As all the fignting winds down another Skrull ship touches down and to everybody's shock . . .
This ship contains the heroes the Skrulls kidnapped and replaced. I'm looking at this panel and my big question is : How long have we been reading about Skrulls instead of the real heroes? When were each of these heroes kidnapped? How many issues of what series had Skrulls instead of the real heroes? What are the issue numbers? It's important isn't it? Sue Storm, Yellowjacket, these are major heroes. And what's Iron Man doing there? Lots of questions about this panel. Lots of questions.
Here's the heart rending panel when Jessica and Luke find out their baby has been taken.
Kudos to Bendis for pacing things so that the panic really is palpable during the read.
The Baxter Building takes the cake for ultimate high-tech. Remember it was destroyed by the Negative Zone? Well here it is rebuilding itself!
This full page scene is long in coming. Remember the events of Civil War? In it Stark, Richards and what is now the Skrull Pym (!) created a murderous clone. Well you can bet the real Thor isn't thrilled about it - specially since the clone was based on his DNA and this clone murdered Bill Foster. I think Thor's actions here is more than justified and Tony really has this coming.
The end of Secret Invasion is the start of Dark Reign. This panel is the harbinger.